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Bengals should retire four jerseys

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The Cincinnati Bengals have only retired one jersey number in their six-decade history. It's time to honor the greats and retire a few more.

Herb Weitman-USA TODAY Sports

Retiring numbers in the NFL is tricky. You can't retire everyone's number; there are only so many. Offensive linemen are allowed only 30 numbers for their jerseys (50-70) and possibly nine players claim those numbers every year; imagine a franchise having that many players over the course of history.

Cincinnati has only retired one number in franchise history.

No. 54, Bob Johnson.

Johnson was a talented center much beloved by Bengals owner, creator and head coach Paul Brown. Selected second overall behind Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Yary in 1968, Johnson became "the Original Bengal" as the first player drafted in franchise history. The Bengals signed him on June 14, 1968 with Paul Brown saying the signing "ensures us he'll be in professional football for a long time." Johnson would be a team captain through most of his stay in Cincinnati.

During the final game of the 1978 regular season, the Bengals honored Johnson as the "original" Bengal, playing 11 seasons with the team. The team presented Johnson with a silver service set and his own uniform to keep. Most importantly, they retired his number after the game against the Cleveland Browns. However, retirement didn't last long. After Blair Bush suffered a knee injury in 1979, the Bengals asked Johnson to come out of retirement as a long-snapper on punts, field goals and extra points. Which he did. Johnson re-retired after the 1979 season for good.

"You know, it doesn't seem like nine years since I joined the Bengals, but if you go back year-by-year we have played so many games that it seems like more than nine years," Johnson said in 1976. "Personally, I am glad to be here. People kid me about being the original Bengal, but I've seen everything that's ever happened to this franchise. It gets exciting sometimes to think back to the first training camp we ever had and see the type of team we have now."

Johnson is the only Bengals player with a retired number but he shouldn't be.

Anthony Munoz, No. 78: Let's get this out of the way. There is no bigger legend in franchise history than Anthony Munoz, currently the only player to enter the Hall of Fame as a Cincinnati Bengal (NOTE: Other hall of fame players have played for the Bengals, but weren't inducted as Bengals). Despite no one wearing his number since he left for Tampa Bay after the 1992 season, Munoz's number still isn't retired. Munoz's accomplishments are impossible to replicate: He's a nine-time First-Team All-Pro left tackle who qualified for the Pro Bowl 11 times, one of a handful to play on both Bengals Super Bowl teams and he was named to the 1980s All-Decade Team.

Ken Riley, No. 13: No one will touch Ken Riley's 65 interceptions. Never. They'll try, sure. But it will never be reached. In addition to being ranked as the fifth all-time interception leader in NFL history, Riley's key ingredient was durability (save for a game missed here or there, he only missed significant time once in his career) and longevity (playing all 15 seasons in Cincinnati). Let's face the facts: No 13 has only been worn twice since Riley's retirement -- Daniel Pope (2000) and Bart Johnson (2011). Who? Exactly. Retire the number.

Kenny Anderson, No. 14 and Boomer Esiason No. 7: Sorry Andy, time for you to find a new number. It's not like we're THAT respectful of you. Regardless, four players have worn No. 14 over the ages, starting with Sam Wyche, then Ken Anderson, Maurice Purify and now Dalton. Anderson, a four-time Pro Bowler, one-time MVP and First-Team All-Pro and Boomer Esiason, a four-time Pro Bowler, one-time MVP and First-Team All-Pro, have the distinction of being the only Bengals quarterbacks to lead their respective teams to the Super Bowl. The argument for Anderson is everywhere, including herehere, and here. Those same arguments could be made for Esiason.

I will make the argument for Corey Dillon (No. 28) and Chad Johnson (No. 85), but they are both understandably unreceptive by Bengals fans still. Dillon had his bitter, and very public, contract negotiations in 2000 while Johnson left on poor terms and made a mockery of himself after leaving Cincinnati. Both are identified as significant role players in Cincinnati's history and should gain consideration at some point. We'll leave those arguments for another day.

We didn't name everyone we like, giving you guys room to nominate your suggestions. Which former Bengals should have their jersey numbers retired?